The Treaty Land Sharing Network is a group of farmers, ranchers, and other landholders who have come together to begin the crucial work of honouring Treaties. In the spirit of sharing the land, we welcome First Nations and Métis people to access the land that we farm to practice their way of life. We are committed to implementing Treaty relationships and engaging in ongoing learning together as we practice being Treaty people in the prairies.
Land is fundamental to Indigenous ways of life.
Yet in Saskatchewan, the overwhelming majority of land below the treeline is privately owned, and only 10% of the original native prairie remains. Reserve land constitutes only 2% of Saskatchewan's land base, which is not sufficient for Indigenous peoples to sustain their cultural survival and livelihoods.
During Treaty negotiations, Indigenous Nations agreed to share the land with settlers – not to cede or surrender it.
As part of these sacred commitments to live together in peace, take care of shared lands, and ensure one another’s wellbeing, Indigenous people were guaranteed that their way of life would be protected – that they would be able to move freely throughout their territories and continue to relate to the land through their own laws, practices, and protocols.
The need to honour Treaty responsibilities is more critical than ever.
In recent years, ongoing privatization of public land, combined with racism, systemic discrimination, and changes to trespassing legislation, are compounding historic land loss and making it increasingly difficult for Indigenous people to safely exercise their Treaty and Inherent Rights.
- Indigenous Peoples hold both Inherent and Treaty Rights to move freely throughout these territories and to use and steward the plants and animals.
- Access to land is critical for the cultural survival and livelihood of Indigenous people.
- As Treaty people, settlers have a responsibility to share the land they currently steward and work to actively remove barriers to safe access.
- It is critical for settlers to engage in ongoing learning together to deepen their practice of the Treaty relationship, even when this work requires them to set aside their own ways of doing things, challenge their perceptions, and feel uncomfortable.
The Treaty Land Sharing Network began with a small gathering of landholders at Wanuskewin on a snowy day in February 2019. At a time when accessing land was becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous for Indigenous people, particularly following the death of Colton Boushie and the Gerald Stanley trial, landholders saw the need to better understand their responsibilities as Treaty people and take concrete steps toward restoring safe land access and sharing land as Treaties intended.
While there were many unanswered questions, everyone in attendance embraced the idea of land sharing and deepening their understanding of Treaties as frameworks for coexistence in these territories.
That fall, a larger group met with Indigenous land users in Fort Qu’Appelle. The organizing committee took the knowledge and ideas shared there to create the bones of an organization. They met, planned, talked to many settlers, and applied for grants. A partnership with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner deepened and strengthened the network.
In the summer of 2020, the monumental start of something exciting was marked with a ceremony organized by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and led by Elder Ross Gardypie, signifying the commitment of landholders to begin to right the relationship. Since then, our network has grown to include 52 locations and 37,000 acres across Treaty 4 and Treaty 6.
Anishnabek Nation Treaty Authority
Office of the Treaty Commissioner
The Comeback Society
National Farmers Foundation
The Treaty Land Sharing Network is supported by funding from the Government of Saskatchewan's First Nations and Métis Community Partnership Projects Fund; SaskCulture's Multicultural Initiatives Fund; and the United Church of Canada.